The Nigerian Government has moved to regulate the ownership of mobile phone lines in order to combat kidnappings in the country.
Communications and Digital Economy Minister, Isa Ibrahim Pantami, said kidnappers take advantage of the flexibility in owning and registering SIM cards, which they use in demanding ransoms from the relatives of their victims.
He directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to review SIM card registration and usage to bar owning more than three SIM cards.
Pantami said, “The revision of the policy is based on the feedback received from the security agencies, following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs.”
According to a statement by the Minister’s Technical Adviser, Dr Femi Adeluyi, the revision of the policy would be undertaken before December 1.
The statement said, “Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission to revise the policy on SIM card registration and usage.
“This is in line with the powers of the minister as stated in Section 25(1) of the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.
“The revision of the policy is based on the feedback received from the security agencies following the successful revalidation of improperly registered SIM cards in September 2019 and the blocking of those that failed to revalidate their SIMs.
“The NCC is to provide the minister with progress reports on the implementation of the revised policy.”
However, Association of Telecoms Companies of Nigeria, a union for telecom operators, corrected the notion that the restriction would serve the purpose of the minister.
President of the association, Olusola Teniola, said criminal minded people can still find their way around the restriction by getting multiple National Identity Number in order to register as many SIM cards as they chose.
He advised the government to adopt the postcode system and digital address system used in the United Kingdom and Ghana.